Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Simon Greco (1917-2005)

Simon Greco was born on April 9, 1917, in Italy to an Italian-American father and an Italian mother. Greco arrived in the United States near the end of 1921. The passenger manifest for his ship (propitiously named S.S. Providence) gave his birthplace as "Spesano." I suspect that he came from Spezzano, located in the southern part of the country. The Greco family settled in St. Louis where his father, Giuseppe Greco, worked for a gas company. Greco's mother was named Maria. By the 1940s, Simon Greco had relocated to New York and Connecticut, haven for artists. He was married to Eleen Williams (1920-2008).

You can read the high points of Simon Greco's life in the book jacket biography I have posted here. It's from a  large paperbound book called The Art of Perspective Drawing, published by M. Grumbacher, Inc., in 1968. Grumbacher put out a lot of really fine instruction books in art, but this one is especially good. The highlights of course are Mr. Greco's illustrations. He was an artist hard to categorize, but that makes him that much more interesting. His work is partly realistic, almost in a photographic way. (He painted a number of trompe l'oeil pictures.) He can also be considered a surrealist and a magical realist in a style that was very common at mid-century, especially in advertising and other commercial art. Simon Greco also painted covers for magazines, including men's magazines of the 1950s and '60s.

Simon Greco was an extraordinary artist. His work is mesmerizing. Fortunately for us, he lived a long life. He died on January 20, 2005, in Westborough, Massachusetts, at age eighty-seven.

Text copyright 2013 Terence E. Hanley